Part of King George III Sound on the south coast of New Holland, December 1801

This is one of the ten paintings by Westall of Matthew Flinders' Australian voyage (1801-03) that the Admiralty commissioned from 1809 (ZBA7914, 7935-7936, 7938-7944): they were completed over the next three years.

It looks down from high ground towards what appear to be two bays divided by an isthmus, but may be one large inlet connected between the distant hills shown. Flinders' 'Investigator' spent four weeks surveying around King George's Sound but even from his written account it is hard to work out the topography shown here, though the bay may be the one Flinders called Princess Royal Harbour. In the foreground, under a palm and another tree, two Aboriginal figures are tending a fire. The one on the left, with beads round the neck and swathed in a blanket, is female; the other is male with feathers in his hair and naked. There is no reason to suppose the figures are specific, but the area was that of the Noongar people.

The image was engraved as one of the nine plates in Flinders ‘A Voyage to Terra Australis' (1814, and also separately published that year in Westall's 'Views of Australian Scenery') in which it is the first in Flinders, vol. 1, captioned 'View from the South side of King George’s Sound'. Related text of 23-24 December 1801 is unspecific, though does cover encounter with local people while Flinders was ashore and summarise the nature of the place: 'The country through which we passed in this excursion has but little to recommend it. The stony hills of the sea coast were, indeed, generally covered with shrubs; but there was rarely any depth of vegetable soil, and no wood.’ For other notes on the group see ZBA7914. [PvdM 1/18, updated 9/18]

Object Details

ID: ZBA7943
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - Pacific Encounters Gallery
Creator: Westall, William
Date made: 1809-1812
People: HM Admiralty; Australian Landscape Touring Exhibition Ministry of Defence Art Collection
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Frame: 801 mm x 1060 mm x 90 mm;Painting: 618 mm x 883 mm x 24 mm

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